People spread lies more than the truth.
An analysis of more than ten year’s worth of tweets shows that fake news spreads faster and further on twitter than true stories. The research also suggests that people play a greater role in sharing lies than computer-generated bots.
People are gossips and love to pass on stories although they do not know that they are true. It supports the well-known adage, ‘don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story’.
Facts and counter-facts are the order of the day. It comes on the back of the long and practised deceit of half-truths.
Half-truths gather their power from the truth that is in them – deceiving the person who does not realise that it is not the whole truth.
Jesus said: ‘If I say the truth, why do you not believe Me?’ John 8:46.
Such was their prejudice that He said: “Because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me” John 8:45.
Why is this so? Jesus diagnosed it in various ways:
‘I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you’ John 5:42.
‘This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil’ John 3:19.
‘Their eyes they have closed lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.’ Mat 13:15.
The godly are the children of truth 3Jn 1:4 because they have been born again 1Pe 1:23 by the Holy Spirit of truth Jn 14:17, Jn 15:16, Who applied the Word of truth Eph 1:13 to their understanding and their conscience Jn 16:13 in such a way that they have come to the knowledge of the truth 1Tim 2:4, 2Tim 3:7 and Heb 10:26 and to the acknowledgement of the truth as it is in Jesus Eph 4:21 Who is the Way to the Father’s house, the Truth and the Life Jn 14:6.
The Holy Spirit continues to sanctify the saints through belief of the Truth 2Th 2:13. Have you ever met one of these godly people?
In spite of the claim that the Arts are intended to convey the reality of life to the public, I challenge you to find and name one drama, film, sit-com or play in the long history of the Arts that portrays the godly life of even one of God’s saints, far less a whole community or congregation of godly Christians. Any portrayal is more likely to be caricature than truth. The Arts spends its time desensitizing society to the wickedness that is practised in our ungodly society, taking people step by step down the winding staircase that hides from them the destination at its bottom.
It is no wonder the world knows so little about the godly and the lives of the godly. You may have met such Christians but unless you take time to speak to them and get to know them you will know next to nothing about a godly life. The time is long overdue that you should acquaint yourself with them and thereby to acquaint yourself with God Job 22:21.
13 Jun 2018: click here for an example of half-truths about Lionel Messi and the Palestinians, showing how fake news does its nefarious work. Before the age of the internet, it was proverbial to say: ‘You cannot believe everything you read in the newspapers’. Yet newspapers attempted to corroborate everything they wrote, only they were not always able to get it right within the tight schedules and their publishing deadlines. Thus the proverb developed. How much less can we believe what tweets and social media say? A generation of people need to learn the skill of distinguishing lies from truth, and it is not a skill that is being practised much.
15 Jun 2018: the internet is the merging of the telephone and the computer, and long before the internet, the telephone was the gossiper’s tool.
However, even before the telephone the speed of transmission of lies was noted by Jonathan Swift in 1710 and by many others since then.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon of London, the popular Victorian preacher, said: “If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old Proverb, ‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.’”
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” is one variation of a host of similar sentiments. It is wrongly credited to Winston Churchill and similar sentiments have been gratuitously mis-attributed to Mark Twain.
One of the most intriguing unverified accredited sayings is: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing”, attributed to Edmund Burke but never found in his writings. Although a poll conducted by the editors of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations ascertained it to be the most popular quotation of modern times, yet its source has never been traced.
Some people avoid accusations of misquotation by saying: “I did not say that he/she wrote it, but that they said it”, which is non-falsifiable.
The ingredients for this chain reaction of lies are a gossip, a gossiper’s ear, a disregard for the reputation of one’s neighbour, and a lazy person who will not research the truth or who will not reserve judgment until they have heard at least both sides of an event.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” Mat 22:39 would solve many of these problems. The gossiper and the liar do not love their neighbour, far less love God.
“If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen.” The apostle John.1Jn 4:20
7 Sep 2020: BBC Newsnight reported tonight on the powerful effect of a fake 1-star review on Amazon and other websites. This is the most powerful way to attack competitors. One negative 1-star review can offset 50-60 positive 5-star reviews. This reminds us of the power of the lie. It permeates the whole of life and it is worth noting that one lie can counteract 50 truths. A news item is one matter, but what about one’s reputation? One lie can ruin one’s reputation, especially if one does not even know about the lie. The only safeguard is to remind people that:
“God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” King Solomon.Ecclesiastes 12:14
The critical thinking taught by Christ should make you reserve judgment when you hear uncharacteristic reports, and Christian charity and self-knowledge should remind you that a person can act out of character and that oppression can drive even a wise man to distraction Ecc 7:7.
For every truth, there are an untold number of lies. People hear many lies and are more likely to believe the lie than the truth.
Fake news is more popular than the truth. Lies are more likely to be believed. Jesus said: “I am the truth.” What do you think? Where does this leave you?
1 Mar 2021: cinematic portrayal of miserable Christians by the arts.